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“Speed of Time”

backyard chain grass park

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

As I was pulling weeds in front of our house the other day, I was hoping the new neighbor didn’t think I was some type of Mrs. Kravitz from the Bewitched show.  Something made me look up just as a young lady with dark straight hair drove by.  She pulled into the driveway next door and went straight into the garage.  That was the last I saw of the new neighbor, for now.  Shortly after, a moving truck slowly inched by, almost turning into our place but then realized it needed to move down one more spot.  Mrs. Kravitz might have stayed just where she was, pulling weeds, or she may have moved inside her own house to spy at the goings on through a partially moved blind or shade.

I decided to go around to the other side of the house to see what weeds needed pulling. Slowly, I managed to get to the back of our yard and decided to hang out there to read a book in my new anti-gravity chair while listening to the little kids playing a few doors down.  The birds were singing their usual songs on one of the most gorgeous of summer days.

Suddenly, a young man carrying a big wooden spool was in the new neighbor’s backyard, and he walked along measuring a cable line from the back of the house to the phone line. At first I wondered if he was going to be our new neighbor too, but realized that since he had a cable, he was the cable guy.  Shortly after, the moving truck left, and it made my Mrs. Kravitz self think the new neighbor must not have any children because the unloading would have lasted a lot longer.  Mrs. Kravitz would have most likely taken the time to run right over and knock on the new neighbor’s door, but we might just have to wait to see if the young lady ventures out.  We’ll start with a few waves as she passes by in her car and go from there!

I couldn’t help but think to way back when we first moved into our house.  The new neighbor’s house had been occupied for many years by Bruce and Ann.  When we met them, I thought they were an “older” couple and wondered if they planned on downsizing, since their family was all grown up and moved out.  Ann must have read my mind because some of the first words out of her mouth were, “We’re not going anywhere,” which ended up being fine with us.  Bruce and Ann had been very nice neighbors to have for 20 years, and the neighborhood felt empty after they moved out.

Now, the new neighbor might think we are an “older” couple and may wonder if we plan on moving away to a smaller place. She might even be so young that she doesn’t even know about Mrs. Kravitz!  We used to be the young family with little kids running around, but now we watch and enjoy the sounds of the new little ones taking over.  Bruce and Ann came to the high school graduation parties we had for our kids.  In her cards, Ann was so kind to write about how they enjoyed watching our kids grow up.  Now we’re the ones watching the neighborhood kids grow up.  Isn’t it funny how that happened, and so quickly?

Some day man will travel at the speed of light,
of small interest to those of us still trying to
catch up to the speed of time.
~Robert Brault

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Fishy

beach enjoyment fun leisure

Photo by Scott on Pexels.com

Once upon a time, on a warm and sunny summer day, a little girl went to the beach with her mom. They packed up a picnic lunch, beach blanket, towels, sunscreen, a bucket, and a shovel. There was a little spot on the beach just for them. Many people were together enjoying the day too, and those peoples’ conversations floated away with the wind. All the talking didn’t cover up the sounds of the waves splashing on the shore or the rustling of the leaves in the towering trees.

They walked hand in hand in the Minnesota sand, which felt very warm on the bottoms of their feet. The little girl, who would be two years old on her next birthday, looked confident in her pink one-piece swimsuit with a picture of the Little Mermaid on front. They quickly toddled off to find the cooler wet sand. The waves tickled their feet to welcome them in. Soon, the little girl was up to her knees in the very clear blue lake water.

“Fishy,” the little girl shouted and dove into the water face first as quickly as she could, somehow wiggling out of her mom’s grasp. The mom was surprised how courageous her daughter was and was sure the little girl had kept her eyes wide open as she held her arms forward trying to grab the fish with her hands. The mom instinctively pulled her little girl out of the water.

“Did you try to catch the fish?” the mom asked.

The little girl looked surprised, her curls now smashed down after coming out of the water. She didn’t seem to have lost one beat to the rhythm of her breath. The mom held her little girl on her hip and felt little goosebumps form on her own arms. They waded out to the deeper water.

“I wonder where the fish went,” the mom said.

“Fishy,” the little girl repeated in a softer voice as she looked down at the deep water trying to find the fish. The mom and daughter held onto each other while they bobbed up and down with the waves. They twirled about to feel the water cool them. The fun melted away the mom’s goosebumps.

“I think it was a sunfish,” said Mom. “I’m surprised it was so close to all these swimmers at the beach. That was very brave of you to try to get it with your hands!”

The little girl giggled as the mom carried her. They went to the shore, played in the sand, and had a lunch that included gold-fish crackers, which reminded them of the Fishy they found at the lake on a warm and sunny summer day.

The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives. ~Robert Brault

Closer to the Mountains

Our next stop took us up little by little to be closer to the mountains.  The train trip to the quaint town of Grindelwald from Interlaken took 33 minutes, to be exact!  We walked a short distance to find Hotel Belvedere, where we would stay for the next three nights.  Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, but the lady at reception offered us a welcome drink, which we enjoyed on the terrace.

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere

Every hotel where we stayed included breakfast, but it wasn’t just any breakfast. Large rooms greeted us with tables of food.  There were eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast, lunch meats, Swiss cheeses, loaves of bread ready for slicing, cereal, yogurt, and fruit.  Some places had coffee machines with buttons where we could choose a latte or cappuccino.  The Hotel Belvedere had a beautiful restaurant where we enjoyed all this, plus seeing and tasting honey from a honeycomb.

The highlights of our stay were walking about the town to explore the restaurants and take in the picturesque views.

Another highlight was when we took a round-trip ride on a cogged wheel train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Kleine Scheidegg has an altitude of 6,761 feet and sits at the foot of the Eiger North Wall.  (The movie The Eiger Sanction was filmed here.)

From Kleine Scheidegg, travelers can take the Jungfrau Railway, which climbs to the Eiger Glacier Station. This trail travels partway through a mountain at quite the incline, with a few stops on the way.  I wasn’t sure about going on this next jaunt, but my husband talked me into it.  When we reached the top, which has an altitude of 11,332 feet, we disembarked to go to a building.  There are many tourist attractions, such as a tour, ice palace, hikes, restaurant, shops, and observation decks.  We did not stay long because my husband had a reaction to the high altitude, so we headed back down the mountain as soon as we could.  This was okay with me, because I felt a little light-headed too.  Luckily, we got our Jungfrau-Top of Europe Passport stamped before we left!

As we traveled on the Jungfrau Railway, we couldn’t help but appreciate all the work that went into its construction. The construction began in July 1896.  From our Jungfrau–Top of Europe Passport:

Swiss industrial magnate Adolf Guyer-Zeller has an audacious idea while on a hike. The “railway king” wants to blast a tunnel through the rock of the Eiger and Monch and construct a cogwheel railway to the Jungfrau summit.  Local people recognize the touristic potential and support his plan.

The workers make rapid progress in the tunnel; however the mountain takes its toll. On 26 February 1899, an accident with explosives claims the lives of six men.  A miner’s daily wage is only 4.60 francs.  Strikes break out, whereby the management reacts with dismissals.

As an incentive, a reward is offered to the shift that makes the breakthrough. On 21 February 1912, the miners use more dynamite than is permitted and blast through to daylight.  The shout of “Through!” echoes along the tunnel and the workers fall into each other’s arms.  The masterpiece has finally been achieved!

Mr. Guyer-Zeller died in 1899 from pneumonia, but his family carried out his plan. In the beginning of December 1905, there were some financial problems that forced the work to be halted for two years.  After a 16-year construction period, the final station to Jungfraujoch opened on February 21, 1912.

Here are some pictures from the cogged wheel train trip:

It was nice getting closer to the mountains, but we didn’t mind seeing them from afar either!

When we left the hotel, the hospitable lady at reception gave us this little package of Swiss chocolates!

Grindelwald Hotel Belevedere Departing Treats of Chocolates

I hope you can join me next time for our last stop of the trip: Lucerne.

Ancestral Home

The next leg of our Switzerland trip ended up being the one where we got in the most steps. When we arrived in the small town of Ringgenberg, after a short train trip of a little over three miles from Interlaken, we walked a couple of blocks to find the tourism office. It didn’t seem like anyone else was visiting the quiet town, which has a population of 2,700. We told the nice young man at the tourist office that we came to visit Ringgenberg because my grandfather was born there. He told us there are many people who live there with our last name. I told him my grandfather would be about 140 years old by now, so it was unlikely there were any people there who would have known him. That gave him a chuckle, and he told us about a couple of the main attractions: Ringgenberg Church and Burgseeli Lake.

Ringgenberg Church, which was built into castle ruins in 1670, sits on top of a large hill. “Ringgenberg Castle was inhabited from 1240 until 1380 [by the Ringgenberg family].” Before we climbed up to see the church, we noticed the small cemetery by Lake Brienz. What makes the cemetery unique is that in front of each tombstone there is a little garden where spring plants actually live in the ground. The little gardens felt as if a lot of love, pride, and care lives there. We noticed Grandpa’s last name on some of the tombstones, and I guess this was the closest I would get to some of my relatives. Looking closer, I realized the people who were in the cemetery were too young to be my great grandparents, and I wondered where their final resting spots might be. We continued exploring by walking up the steps to find a spectacular view. Even though it was a Friday, we happened upon a happy couple getting their wedding pictures taken behind the church. There was a little bit of hustle and bustle going on as people were getting ready for the wedding ceremony.

Ringgenberg

Home Across from Burgseeli Lake, Ringgenberg

We walked to Burgseeli Lake, which is located between the towns of Ringgenberg and Goldswil. I thought I snapped a picture of the lake, but I must not have pushed the button hard enough. 😦 To see a picture, click here. This may have been the spot where Grandpa saved two girls from drowning many, many years ago. The water in Burgseeli Lake can reach temperatures in the upper 70s, and people can swim there from May through September. “The water reaches such comfortable temperatures so quickly in spring because it is moorland water with a low oxygen content and very slow circulation.”

We found our way back to the train station and headed to the adorable town of Brienz. Our main goal was to find the woodcarving school my grandfather attended. We ended up walking along the shore of the lake from one end of town to the other, and eventually found the school. We would have found it sooner, if we held the map the right way! 🙂

We met a young woman at the carving school who is a student there. She told us how the students are required to go to school for four years and said when my grandpa went there, there would have been about 2,000 students. Now there are about 30. My husband asked if the school sells any of their wood carvings, and she said they do not want to take business away from the woodcarving shop down the road. So after a few more pleasantries, we headed off to visit the Huggler Wood Carving Shop and bought a few little souvenirs to bring home to the kids.

When we got back to Interlaken, we visited the Golden Egg Restaurant again, since we enjoyed it so much the night before. Besides the bread and salad, we each had a meal of pasta. I had macaroni and my husband had ravioli, which was swimming in olive oil. We relaxed in a comfy booth by the window. My husband and I wondered how many miles we walked, and I wondered where my Great Grandparents were and thought it was weird I didn’t think about them before we went on the trip. Funny what visiting a cemetery can do to someone, but they had passed away almost a century ago. Maybe I’ll be able to find them some other time. It’d be nice to go back and spend more time in my ancestral home and the Golden Egg! 🙂

Inside the Golden Egg.
See the Polar Bear in the Middle Picture?

Next stop: Grindelwald

Trains Run on Time

The morning we left Amsterdam to go to Zürich is the day I should not have worn my money belt around my waist, because that’s when I got frisked at the airport.  I had gotten used to strapping the belt on every morning.  When the lady who worked at the airport started patting me down is when I realized the money belt that held my passport and credit cards was triggering this activity.  “Next time, don’t wear that when going through security,” she politely said.  Whoops! 🙂  Before leaving on our trip to Europe, I read a few articles about the pickpockets, which is why I was careful about wearing the money belt. For that reason and the reason that a friend of mine had her purse and passport stolen when she was in Italy.  It’s a big mess to go through when losing a passport.  I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me.

After the frisk, we boarded our flight on KLM Airlines.  The flight attendants wear white blouses, light blue blazers and skirts with a matching pill hat balanced on top of their heads.  It seemed as if they were coming out of a decade we’d already lived through, but it was nice to see!  Plus, they gave us little chicken sandwiches in a white and Dutch blue paper box covered with pictures of old-fashioned windmills.  It was the simplest of meals, but left quite an impression.

When we arrived, there was a different feeling from what we experienced in Amsterdam. Zürich seemed to be a bit more serious, quiet, and less crowded.  We found the office of the train station, and the lady there pointed us to the train tunnel.  This is where I started to feel a little anxious.  What were we thinking?  Could we really navigate our way through Switzerland by ourselves via train?  What if we ended up on the wrong train?  But all went well.  The lady at the train station handed us a train schedule and told us about the SBB Mobile app.  The app has the timetables and has the ability to purchase tickets.  We didn’t have to worry about buying tickets since we purchased them before we left for our trip.

The tunnel wasn’t very crowded, and since I didn’t have the app loaded on my phone yet, I asked one of the train workers if the trains have numbers (like the bus I take at home). He said, “No, it all works by timetable.”  In true Swiss fashion, each train has a spot on the car where it indicates its destination.  All the trains ran on time, just as you would expect when traveling in Switzerland, the clockmakers of the world.  There was no need to be nervous about numbers on trains.  To be sure though, we asked fellow travelers if the train was going to Bern.  🙂

We noticed a lot of graffiti on walls and under bridges as we travelled to Bern, which I didn’t expect to see. I also saw billboards or signs for Electrolux vacuum cleaners and Elna sewing machines – things my dad bought when I was younger.  After we got off the train in Bern and were trying to figure out where to go next, a lady walked up to me and asked for directions in English!  I thought I must look like I belonged there but told her we were trying to figure out the same thing.  We ended up following everyone else and found our way to the restrooms and some restaurants.  Luckily, we bought the best chocolate, chocolate chip muffin I’ve ever eaten.  Back to the tracks, we found our next train, which was going to Interlaken.

The scenery improved more and more as we traveled along and left the big city of Bern. When we got to a valley by a lake and mountains surrounded us, I knew we were in Interlaken.  The beauty of it all took my breath away!  So much so, that I did not take pictures at that time.  After a few more minutes of train travel, we were at the train station in Interlaken and took a cab to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Bellevue, which has been in business since 1801 and is located on the River Aare. Above are pictures of the outside of the hotel and an adjacent restaurant, reception area, headboard on bed (thought it was cute!), updated bathroom with clear shower doors, and view from our hotel.  Carla, at reception, told us “people around here like to watch the parasailers jump off the mountain and try to land in Hohematte Park,” a short walk away.  After checking in, we leisurely walked around town where we found a beautiful church, the park, the spot to go to buy a wristwatch – there were many watch shops there – and more beautiful architecture.  Even though we enjoyed our short stay in the Netherlands, it was nice to be away from the Hectically Moving Crowds and busyness of Amsterdam.

Interlaken Hotel Where We Did Not StayFancy Hotel, Where we Did Not Stay

We ended up having dinner at the restaurant next door to our hotel – Goldener Anker (Golden Egg) – which Carla recommended. Our waitress brought us a little basket of bread.  We both had a dinner salad which came with finely-shredded beets and carrots.  I had chicken schnitzel.  In case you don’t know, schnitzel means the meat is tenderized and pounded thin and covered in flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs.  Instead of bread crumbs though, mine was covered in coconut flakes and came with a mustard sauce.  My husband had fresh perch with a rice medley.  The atmosphere was relaxed with hushed conversations and soft American rock music in the background.  The staff was very accommodating and the food was delicious.

The reason we travelled to Switzerland was to see where my grandpa grew up. My dad received many postcards that were sent to him from his cousin, John, who traveled there many times.  John encouraged my dad to visit, but Dad did not like to travel by airplane and never went.  Those postcards, the picture calendars Grandpa received from his hometown, and Grandpa’s stories made me want to visit my ancestral home.  Knowing we could get to Grandpa’s birthplace by train the next day made me excited for our next adventure.

Next stop:  Ringgenberg and Brienz, with more mountain pictures to come.

Sparkling Spring

 

Eighteen inches of snow is never a welcomed sight, especially in the spring. Memories of last weekend, when the snow fell on us, lingered in my mind yesterday morning.  It felt like winter was never going to leave.  That snow was heavy and swirled about in the blowing wind.  It blanketed everything around and made me dread it even though it left sparkling flakes in the night.  Those sparkles would have appeared more beautiful early in the winter instead of early in the spring.  It felt awkward to have to stay in during a blizzard when all winter long Lila and I have been going for long walks on Saturdays.

Yet, not everyone was disappointed by the four letter word that begins with the letter “S.” Lila loved it.  Even though the snow was all the way up to her belly, she ran and jumped around like she was going through an obstacle course.  As she came back into the house, she ended up bringing a bunch of the snow along with her.  The flakes clung to her black fur.  She must have liked the cool feeling it gave her because she didn’t shake it off.  Lila tends to walk in the snow when we go for our winter walks.

After Lila and I left the house for our walk at 8:30 yesterday morning, the birds greeted us with happy songs. (We didn’t hear a peep out of any birds last weekend.)  The sun was peaking over to warm us and the bright snow spotted the grass making us wonder if winter was still holding on.  The temperature was 30 degrees.  We still had to trudge through some snow piles when we walked to the path.  The more we walked, the warmer it got.  My winter jacket, hat, and mittens were no longer needed, and I tied my jacket around my waist.  Others walking around the park had been more confident in the weather and wore lighter clothing.  The sun was warmer than I thought, and the wind was nowhere to be found.  It got to be 40 degrees by the time we got back home.

In spots, the green grass sprung out at us. Some trees had buds to show us.  Cardinals chirped a lovely tune to us.  Canadian honkers honked at us.  Robins hopped close to us.  Other birds dove in and out of trees around us.  Squirrels hid from us.  Wild turkeys flew up into a tree branch to get away from us.  The day brought us temperatures in the 60s.  It looks like all these things in nature think spring is sparkling through to leave winter behind.  I guess I think so too?  Whatever happens next, Lila will be happy.

Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring. ~Terri Guillemets

That’s Worth a Lot!

red-love-heart-old.jpg

Have you had to assemble anything lately – something that came with instructions? Did you notice that the instructions only come with pictures and a few names of the items that are inside the box? I find that not having words in the instructions to be confusing. If I can’t figure out the pictures, I end up watching a tutorial on YouTube. I’m glad there’s YouTube, but really, why can’t they include some words on the instructions to help us assemble our project?

Our lives would be so different, if we didn’t know how to read. The majority of my days are spent reading and writing at my job, and when I’m done with that, I pull out a book or my cell phone and read things from there. Plus, it’s the things you don’t think about every day that we’re reading that are so helpful. I’m glad to be able to read signs, recipes, patterns and so many other things.

Dad said he taught all of us kids how to read, and I want to thank Dad and my teachers for helping me. Statistics vary on what the literacy rate is because there are so many different factors to consider, but one site said one in 10 people in the world do not know how to read. When I was small, I needed extra help with reading, and I’m grateful I got that help.

Summer school was fun when I went the summer after first grade. I vaguely remember that there were about 12 of us. Besides working on our reading, we made time for playing, which is the part I remember best. Our summer teacher was our wonderful music teacher. Back then, we read the look-say readers Dick and Jane which used the whole word method of reading. Phonics hadn’t been introduced to us yet.

When my class got to second grade, we started getting the book order forms from Scholastic. There were so many books to choose from the colorful thin paper forms. When our paperback book orders arrived, it was such an exciting day. The books were bound together with a rubber band with our book orders on top. That’s when I learned that books are magical and can carry us off to different times and places to meet extraordinary or not so extraordinary people. The reader knows they read a good one when they get to the last chapter and feel sad that the story is coming to an end. It can be like saying good-bye to a good friend that you’re not going to see any more.

Pictures might speak a thousand words, but wanting to read the fun books helped us to learn how to read the other books. That helped us to read everything else, and that’s worth a lot!

The worth of a book is to be measured by what
you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce